Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Hon. Minister Chris Bowen reviews the Migration Act 1958 following the Allseas Decision

The AMOU commends the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Hon. Minister Chris Bowen and his staff for reviewing the Migration Act 1958 to ensure that the loophole that allowed foreign waters to work in Australian waters without any visa be closed. Robert Coombs and Jan Thompson met the Minister's staff in early November to discuss this issue and we have followed up with a written submission supporting a change to the Migration Act 1958.

The Federal Court decision to allow Allseas Construction to employ foreign workers in Australian waters without any visas was very surprising as we believed that Australia had a clear right to regulate the resources in the territorial sea, or in the continental shelf, however the legislation does not support that proposition, hence the reasoning of the Judge in the Allseas Decision.

Skilled Occupations List

The Minister has also alerted us to the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA), formerly Skills Australia, annual review of the Skilled Occupations List. We have also made written submissions advocating the removal of: Ship's Master; Ship's Officer; and Shipwright from the Skilled Occupations List. We have done this on the basis that the online survey by ORIMA Research commissioned by the Australian Maritime Industry Department of Infrastructure and Transport found that the number of 457 Visa holders working as Deck Officers is 69 and we currently have 66 Members seeking employment.

The evidence would indicate that there is an in balance in the number of 457 visa holders to the unemployed Australian Maritime Officers; indicating that Employers have not sought to engage Australian Maritime Officers, because it is cheaper to employ 457 visa holders. Despite the requirement to pay 457 visa holders at a level which is the same or higher than an equivalent Australian worker, especially in the offshore oil and gas industry, the rates are not being paid.

Furthermore the Allseas decision indicates the length that some offshore oil and gas operators will go to avoid employing Australians and paying the correct rate of pay. In the past when the Lorelay and Solitare vessels worked in Australian waters, the operators employed full Australian crews and paid them the AMOU negotiated Agreement. Now they want our resources and want to exploit foreign workers.                

The AMOU calls on the government to scrap the 457 Visa program as it is an exploitation of foreign workers and denies Australians employment and career development.